A late goal from Jonathan Behe helped Warriors FC to clinch a 2-1 Singapore Premier League (SPL) win over Tampines Rovers in a game that could have gone awfully wrong for them despite dominating from start to finish on Wednesday night.
Khairul Amri scored a penalty which should have never been awarded to open the scoring in the first half, before an own goal from Fahrudin Mustafic early in the second half gave Warriors a way back into the game. Behe then struck with five minutes left in regular time to seal the win.
The result meant that Warriors closed the gap on Brunei DPMM, who currently occupy the fourth spot, to just one point although the Bruneian side have two games in hand.
Tampines also remained in second spot despite the defeat, as they hold a higher goal difference than Home United.
Both sides hardly had a sniff on goal in the opening 19 minutes before Tampines were gifted a penalty by referee G Letchmann.
As Yasir Hanapi was preparing to take a free-kick, Hafiz Sulaiman shoved Khairul Amri to the ground right outside the box when they both tussled for position and the match officially pointed to the spot.
The decision was met with protests from the Warriors players, to no avail however, before Amri dispatched the penalty ruthlessly to break the deadlock.
Warriors had a golden chance to net an equaliser 10 minutes later, but Behe produced the miss of the season by putting Ho Wai Loon’s free-kick over from just three yards out.
Tampines were bailed out by goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari on 34 minutes, after he rushed out early to prevent Sahil Suhaimi from applying the finishing touch to Behe’s wonderful threaded pass. But the goalkeeper took a knock in the process, and required more than five minutes of treatment before he bravely stood up to continue playing.
He was replaced at half-time however, and that would go on to have a bearing as Warriors would turn it around in the second half.
The home side got their equaliser through a lucky break on 57 minutes though. After a harmless ball from Poh Yi Feng, who came on just two minutes earlier, took two deflections off Amirul Adli and Mustafic before it trickled into the net.
It was the only contribution of the game for the midfielder after he had to be replaced following a collision with Yasir on 76 minutes.
Sahil then wasted a great chance, fluffing his shot after Khairul Nizam picked him out unmarked in the box, but Warriors would eventually surge ahead on 85 minutes.
A high ball by Ismadi Mukhtar found its way to Behe and he smartly controlled it with his chest, which helped him to get past Mustafic, before making no mistake with his finish.
Ryutaro Megumi did find the back of the net late in injury time, but it was correctly ruled out offside, allowing Warriors to clinch the victory.
What they said:
Warriors Head Coach Mirko Grabovac: “Some moments of the game, it’s (the decisions taken by the referee) were not balanced between both sides. It was an easy foul (that led to the penalty). But second half, we got the goal, we played very well. I would like to say congratulations to my players today, they fought very hard. The way we played, especially second half, they did very well.
“Tampines are the biggest team. They have a lot of players who you cannot afford a little bit space to them because they can change the game in a moment. Tampines have a lot of good players, but my team played very well today.
“First half tactically we did very well, which is not easy to do so against Tampines, and we had the better chances as well but just didn’t take them. We want to play better and better, that’s the way. Nizam gave us a new dimension. We did better, especially over the last two games. We try our best and we hope to win. The players have gotten some winning mentality over the last few games.”
Tampines Head Coach Juergen Raab: “It’s very bad, it was a bad match on a bad field with a very bad referee. We have to manage with the injury to Syazwan at half-time, and the deflected goal, I’m not sure how they scored it. Second goal, with the arm, it’s not correct and the referee didn’t see. We go home with zero points… it’s one of the matches that’s very hard to analyse because of additional influence from the referee. It’s very hard for the team.
“We played on Sunday, now on Wednesday and Warriors had no games on the weekend. We have the power, but what I must say is that we have made too much mistakes in the matches. We have to struggle now because we are equal with Home, but we have matches and it’s still in our hands. Now we have a little break, I hope we can recover, give them off, hopefully they can come back refreshed.”
Warriors: Mukundan Maran (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar, Kento Fukuda (C), Ammirul Emmran (Poh Yi Feng 55′, Delwinder Singh 76′), Emmeric Ong, Jonathan Behe, Sahil Suhaimi, Hafiz Sulaiman, Fadhil Noh, Tajeli Salamat (Khairul Nizam 46′), Ho Wai Loon
Tampines: Syazwan Buhari (GK) (Hariz Farid (GK) 46′), Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Amirul Adli, Ryutaro Megumi, Jordan Webb, Shameer Aziq, Daniel Bennett, Irwan Shah (Hafiz Sujad 73′), Yasir Hanapi, Khairul Amri, Irfan Najeeb (Zulfadhmi Suzliman 68′)